clarity of living

Watching the rain fall, listening to Fleetwood Mac, looking at pictures of my husband from his childhood and earlier days before us… Taking a moment to breathe and appreciate a day of normalcy as my best friend is now home from the ICU… Spending all those days in Seattle was simultaneously a challenge, as I watched my friend in pain, and comforting as I was back where I started from.

There are moments in life when everything becomes crystal clear. Even those things which still disappoint or don’t make complete sense.

I am 42. I am on my second marriage and we have his, hers and ours equaling 6 kids. My marriage almost fell apart last year. There are people from my family of origin I no longer have relationship with. The number of friends who pour into my life is overwhelming, and the grace that covers my life, incomprehensible. I feel as though every struggle, loss, season of trial, happy memory, relationship, decision….has prepared me for this very moment. Right now. It’s as though every breath I am taking, brings more and more clarity.

And resolve.

I have no idea what tomorrow holds. Nor what all of yesterday means. But I know that my God holds it all. And I know who I am. Perhaps that is the clarity I have been living for.

 

 

 

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blessed in the dark

A week ago today I woke up to the news my sister-by-design was in the ICU, having been hit by a car while she rendered aid to the victim of a three car crash the night before. Her injuries were serious, but the reality is, they could have been so much worse. God was looking out for her – His plan for her life is not yet through.

It’s really only begun.

Over the past week, prayers and offers of help have poured out like a mighty river. While her husband and another friend and I held vigil and hovered like nervous new mama’s, hundreds of people spoke life and healing over her, comfort and strength over us. My friend’s life affects so many others – more than I think she ever could fully comprehend.

Through it all,  I learned some things about myself. And about others. I learned who really cared and who still put their own interests first. It was made clear how much those I love mean to me, and the depth of my personal convictions. My faith was strengthened, my hope renewed, and prayers answered.

I don’t know how to end this as there are still so many thoughts, ideas, and emotions running through my head. Multiple evenings of sitting in the dark in prayer, courageously believing that God hears every single one, and watching someone so precious to me fight the good fight of faith and life, has a way of making everything look just a little different. Or, completely different.

So, I am grateful. Thoughtful. Blessed by all of you. Just blessed….

broken. shards. healed.

When you’ve been broken, how do you know when you are “healed?”

Is it when you have completely forgotten what happened? Realized you no longer hate the one(s) who broke you? Let yourself off the hook for being so “dumb?” Moved past the feelings of depression, obsession, or self-rejection?

I’ve started writing a book about my life. There are days now when I really just can’t write down what comes into my head yet – I revisit those moments and know that putting it all down on paper is just too much to sort through yet. Am I still broken??

I think we are all broken. And, that by the time you hit your 40’s, you are beginning to fully own that fact, and love yourself in spite of it. If you are like me, and I would assume a great number of you are, you have experienced a loss or a betrayal, and just when you’ve started to feel whole again, or to trust again, you find yourself flung into either the same situation with a different person, or something new and (not so) exciting to learn to navigate.

The trick at this point, at least as I see it, is in sorting. Sorting what goes where. The who, what, why of it all…

*What did you learn from the situation?

*Had you been there before? If so, why again? What did you not learn the last time?

*Is it possible there is a shift in perspective that needs to take place?

*Have you, or will you, choose forgiveness?

*What needs to change in YOU at this point?

*How are you better, and how has God blessed you through this situation?

These are things I might need to just address through every trip down memory lane. I can’t believe that what I have gone through is merely a casualty of living in a broken world, but that rather every up and down has been allowed as a means to grow and change into the person I was originally designed to be. And that anything that I have walked myself into through stupidity or disobedience will be, or has already been, redeemed by a most gracious and loving God.

So, back to the original thought. I am not sure we are ever completely healed in the way that we would like to be – that would most likely include a scheduled lobotomy. However, I DO believe that healing is a process, and that while we can never go back, what is ahead is greater than anything we could even imagine. And worth ever single broken shard…

heaven

 

peacemakers

Growing up, I was the peacemaker. As the oldest, and the unfortunate confidant of my father, I learned early on to make harmony my greatest desire. Today, it still is.

It’s possible that it’s part of who God designed me to be. Considering how many strong-willed people are in my world, and how much I love them and long to maintain relationship, it is quite possibly is the only way I survive. Regardless of nature or nurture, it’s become a valuable tool. (Evidence that God can take something not-so-great and turn it to something good!).

Occasionally, I have been criticized for my desire to avoid conflict. What I have learned, however, is that it’s not actually where my struggle lies. It is not that I don’t like conflict, but rather won’t engage in dialogue with a person whose end goal is to be right, prove me wrong, or simply verbally vomit all over my tender, peace-loving-heart.

Over the years, I have learned what matters to me – what is worthy of hitting head on, what should be prayed about, and what to simply release. Relationships are worth far more than to create a scar over something petty or temporal. Most offense comes from an opposing filter, anyway. Grace and forgiveness is so much more agreeable.

One of my favorite scriptures is Romans 12:18 – “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” I rehearse this when I find myself offended or hurt. Breathing deeply, I remember that relationships matter, words are eternal, and peace is priceless…

The link below is to one of my favorite songs. Push play, sit back, and give yourself a moment of peace. May you walk in harmony today. Shalom.

 

 

 

negative freedom

A friend told me recently that he had noticed that I was no longer posting “negative” things on Facebook. What followed was some dialogue about those who vent about specific people and situations in a public forum. While some might “think” they know what the posts are about, I think more assumptions are made than not.

We have all done it. I have. Made generalized statements about specific situations, or specific situations that apply to the general public. But more often than not, many of my comments have been on behalf of what someone else is going through, or several someone’s are. And, I am not sure they have been as negative as some might perceive.

Take today. One statement to grace my page was – “As much wisdom as mom may have, your best friend, or the “experts,” never underestimate the power of sifting, praying & listening to that quiet voice in your own spirit when it comes to the details of raising your kids. Each one is a hand-crafted original, with a specific & unique destiny. And, YOU are the mama/daddy hand-picked by God to be the parent your child needs. Trust the process.”

Now, if I was struggling with my mom, you might come to the conclusion that this was a passive-aggressive approach to venting or to shutting her up. Or, if you yourself face a pride issue, you might see similar nuances in my verbalizations. But, since I am not, nor am I struggling with any such issues currently, you could come to the conclusion that I was trying to be an encouragement to those who struggle with endless guilt and confusion about their own parenting journey.

Historically, if someone has taken offense or taken a shot, by or at one of my posts, I have cringed and deleted. My heart is never, ever to offend. However, more often than not, my inbox will contain a “thank you” from someone who has been encouraged or felt freedom after such a post. Or, at least, has felt that someone else can begin to understand what they are walking out.

Perspective is a beautiful and vital thing. More important, however, is motivation. Never allow another person’s misinterpretation, misunderstanding, or misguided correction derail you from sharing what might help another. Even if it’s negative…

a touched heart

Rainy, dark mornings, in my opinion, are best spent with a cup of tea, my fuzzy red blanket and my bible. Today I was reading in the book of Hosea. It’s been a while since I have spent any time there. Any time at all, really, as most pastors and authors I am familiar with tend to steer around this one (for whatever reason). But today, as I sat down, it opened right up to chapter one, so I decided to see how it might touch my spirit.

Hosea was a prophet, and he was married to Gomer, who left him to pursue the life of a whore. Harsh situation to be sure. Certainly made even more traumatic when God called him to pursue her and lovingly bring her home. And, he was called to raise three children, not all of whom were biologically his.

Wow.

Scripture goes on to describe God’s description of how He Himself woos Israel back to His own heart – possibly also a reflection of how Hosea went about the same process…

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Anchor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. “In that day,” declares the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master’.” I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked. In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety. I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.” – Hosea 2:14-16

Having personally experienced the betrayal of infidelity, and witnessed its destruction in the lives of many whom I love, I have wrestled with the feelings of anger and absolute need for justice (or revenge!). And yet here is the example of how God longs to reconcile – with love (“speaking tenderly”), forgiveness (“removing the names of her lovers”), and restoration (of all that previously belonged to her by marriage).

It defies all that we are as human beings.

Consider, however, a few thoughts. Broken people are broken people. When Gomer left her husband, and presumably her family as well (based on cultural norms at the time), she was seeking. There was an emptiness. She wasn’t whole. Her own self worth was so low, and her need for excitement and something different so great, that she was willing to give up everything – even the very thing that could potentially help bring about that fulfillment over time.

Hm….

Alcholics

Drug addicts

Sex addicts

Porn addicts

Gossips

Shopaholics

Compulsive gamblers…

What is your hole? What do you lack? If you walked away from those who loved you today, how would they respond? If your child or spouse walked away today – would you pursue? Would there be shame, and blame, and self-righteous finger-pointing?

Or would there be grace. Love. Forgiveness. Understanding. Restoration.

Consider the expense of our Savior, Jesus’s death. Ponder the depth of his pain at his own rejection and betrayal at the cross. Today in our own hearts.  Possibly, quite possibly, there is  really only one response that is appropriate…

 

 

 

 

prayers and lindsay lohan??

I was clicking around on the internet this morning, and came upon an article and short video highlighting a new docuseries on Lindsay Lohan. As most of us would anticipate, her irresponsible, and sometimes explosive behavior, reared its head once again.

My first inclination was to just skim the article, but I chose to click on the short 2-minute clip and am so glad I did. When it finished, I began to feel the lump rise in my throat.

I think about the days I am short with my kids. Snarky with my husband. When I choose to look, think and act wretched just because. Or just because it’s raining… The days when I give in to gossip. Unforgiveness. Laziness. Yelling. Crying. Yelling a bit more.

Thank God there is no camera in MY face.

Does media follow drama, or drama follow media? While it’s easy to say “they chose that career,” I chose to get married. I chose to have kids. I choose to make poor decisions and give in to my ego and insecurities. Hmmm…

I know I have said this a zillion times before, but what if we were all in this together? What if we all prayed for one another. Served one another. Gave grace. Extended a hand. What if we smiled at that person who just cut us off because they were so distracted by their own fears, insecurities, stress or exhaustion that they honestly didn’t even see you. Or perhaps looked up from our phones long enough to spend a little time listening to someone who needed an ear. Or a prayer.

Today, I am praying for Lindsay. And for countless others who find themselves at the end. Who are broken or think they are broken. Who are in desperation, or just desperately need to know they matter. Today, I am praying for me. I need a little grace myself.

egg on my face

Over the weekend I came upon some information that rocked me to my core. It took me back to a dark place, and I was quickly swallowed up in overwhelming emotion. I felt betrayed, broken and extremely vulnerable. Honestly, it was astounding, my response, and I became fully aware of how much I still need to heal in certain areas.

When we walk through dark seasons, and God begins to redeem what has been lost and bless areas that were lacking, it can be very easy to move forward too quickly and assume all is restored to its perfect state. Reality is, however, that healing comes in phases, and ebbs and flows. Forgiveness is a process and not always simple.

The shortcut to the end of the story is that I had been misinformed, and thankfully I had only confided in one person, so was only held to one awful conversation in which I had to own up to my mistake. What was good about all this was my being positioned to understand that I am still not whole.

There is work to be done.

The series that has been going the past few weeks at church (www.therockchurch.info) has been on forgiveness. Timely, as always, and so relevant to my heart and life right now. Once crisis is over, and boundaries have been established, we move on to forgiving and healing. It’s all a process, and if there is grieving/loss involved as well, that can greatly effect the length of time and how many circles back around the journey takes.

But, it is worth it.

Let freedom reign in your life today, whatever that looks like. We can rarely control our environment or circumstances, but we can always choose how to walk out the life we are presented with. Don’t let a little egg on the face prevent you from trying again, or cause you to believe you are a failure for not being where you think you need to be yet. Embrace, grace and love.

Shalom.

 

facebook, friends and rants

One of the more interesting aspects of Facebook is our greater capacity to learn a wee bit more about what a person is really made of – what makes them tick and what happens when filters turn off and gloves go on. I know that even with my own posts, I have sometimes marveled at what I feel is relevant or even appropriate to share in a public setting. While honesty is good, discernment still reigns.

Recently a FB friend posted something that stirred up a great deal of dialogue. The follow up post was one about pride and an unwillingness to change. It was one of those moments when I had to sit back and again reflect on why I am putting myself out into the world of social media in the first place. And, to remember that before FB, we could still all be friends, so we certainly don’t “need” to be on there together now in order to maintain relationship. In fact, in some cases, NOT being connected in such a forum might actually save it.

Like spending time with a bunch of crazies in college, social media has the capacity to accelerate our deeper understanding of who people really are. We gain a more revealing glimpse into their world; are they glass-half-full or empty people? Do they choose negativity over grace? Is life a bowl of cherries, or a succession of tragic events as the universe proves they are the sole recipient of all the bad luck in the world…

Over the years I have chosen to delete some people, to hide others. While some might feel it’s harsh or overreactive, here are some of the reasons why.

1. People who choose to live in a constant state of toxicity are free to do so, and I can love you in small doses. But a daily jolt of acid into my own world robs me of my peace. So, I love from a distance. Without knowing who you blasted yesterday in a public arena,  I can still give you an authentic hug the next time I see you.

2. Whiny, daily posts about the endless struggles you face are mildly reminiscent of my ongoing attempts to remind my children that there are starving people all over the world and children being aborted, murdered, raped, beaten and sold daily. While we all face struggles, and they are very real, I struggle to have the grace I desire when I know you have a crisis every single day.

3. When your political, societal or spiritual views are in opposition to mine, AND are the central focus of your daily conversation, I need to bid adieu. While we are all free to our opinions, and I know many of you don’t like mine, either, I get too fired up when the obvious goal is to put all your energy into changing my mind, or proving me wrong. At this point,  I just start to think you a bit of an ass. I really, really, want to like you and to honor who you are and what you believe, so I allow myself the occasional trip down your wall on days when I feel capable of being gracious.

I am sure there are more, but really, I just want to live in peace, guard what comes in to my home, my heart, and my interactions with all of God’s kids. At the end of the day, Facebook is just Facebook, but relationships and love are precious. Protect them at all cost.